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Iowa, Texas Republicans hail benefits from Biden infrastructure bill they opposed

Reps. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) and Kay Granger (R-Tex.) voted against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal in November but are now touting funding for projects in their states, thanks to the measure.

Incoming GOP congresswomen pose for a portrait near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 3, 2020. From left are Michelle Park Steel, Yvette Herrell, Victoria Spartz, Young Kim, Nicole Malliotakis, Ashley Hinson, Beth Van Duyne, Stephanie Bice, Kat Cammack, Lisa McClain, Lauren Boebert and Maria Elvira Salazar. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
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Republican Reps. Ashley Hinson (Iowa) and Kay Granger (Tex.) voted against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal that President Biden signed into law last November, criticizing it as “spending at its worst” and arguing that it was emblematic of a socialist push by the Democratic Party.

But now that money from the package is starting to reach their home states, the two Republicans are touting the achievements of a bill they vociferously opposed.

In a statement Wednesday, Hinson celebrated the allocation of $829.1 million in funding from the infrastructure deal — one of the Biden administration’s key achievements — for the modernization of locks and dams on the Mississippi River, which borders her Iowa district.

“This landmark investment will be game-changing for Iowans and communities along the Mississippi River like Dubuque,” Hinson said in a joint statement issued by a group of bipartisan lawmakers from Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. “That’s why I helped lead a bipartisan group of my colleagues in urging the administration to prioritize funding for these essential upgrades. I’ll always fight to ensure Iowans’ taxpayer dollars are reinvested at home in Iowa.”

In a November statement, Hinson described efforts to pass the infrastructure bill as having been “torpedoed by partisan politics.” The need, she said, to make “meaningful investments” in infrastructure “was sacrificed to advance a partisan, socialist spending spree.”

She also accused the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, namely Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), of hijacking negotiations and said the bill was “the biggest leap toward socialism this nation has ever seen.”

“It takes the Marxist ideology that once only existed in textbooks and makes it law in the United States of America,” she said.

In a similar statement Wednesday, Granger, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, celebrated the news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would spend $403 million for a flood control project in her home state. That funding was allocated as a result of the infrastructure bill, which in November Granger described as a “liberal wish list.”

“Instead of working together on a targeted infrastructure proposal focused on our nation’s true needs, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi chose to pave the way for her nearly $2 trillion socialist plan full of crushing taxes and radical spending,” Granger said back then.

Ultimately, only 13 House Republicans voted for the infrastructure bill — and were heavily criticized by former president Donald Trump for doing so. Some, such as Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), received threatening messages after voting for the bill.

Hinson’s promotion of the funds earmarked by the bill did not go unnoticed by Democrats. In a tweet, Iowa state Sen. Liz Mathis (D), who is running against Hinson for the House seat, accused Hinson of “taking credit for work she didn’t do.”

“You voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill,” Mathis tweeted. “The bill clearly isn’t 'spending at its worst’ now that you want to take credit for it.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also called out Hinson, with spokeswoman Elena Kuhn accusing her of trying to “rewrite her record.”

A spokeswoman for Hinson, Sophie Seid, explained that once the money was available from the law, the congresswoman was going to pursue it for Iowa.

“Since the bill was signed into law, this money was going to be spent regardless. If there’s federal money on the table she is, of course, going to do everything she can to make sure it is reinvested in Iowa,” Seid said in a statement. “That’s why she worked with a bipartisan group of her colleagues in asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize NESP construction along the Upper Mississippi River.”

A spokesman for Granger did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.